CLEVELAND (AP) Alex Rios tripled home the go-ahead run in the 10th inning and the Chicago White Sox beat the Cleveland Indians 5-3 Tuesday night.Cleveland closer Chris Perez (0-1) yielded a leadoff single to Paul Konerko, who was replaced by pinch runner Brent Lillibridge. After A.J. Pierzynski fouled out, Rios lined a ball over the head of second baseman Jason Kipnis that rolled all the way to the wall in right-center as Lillibridge easily scored.Rios scored on a fielder's choice, beating the throw home from Kipnis, who fielded a ground ball hit by Alexei Ramirez.Hector Santiago (1-1) pitched the ninth for his first career win and Addison Reed worked a perfect 10th for his second save as Chicago won for the second time in eight games.Rios was in a 3 for 18 skid until getting two singles off starter Justin Masterson - and his second career triple off Perez. He also hit a walkoff grand slam off Cleveland's closer Sept. 10.Perez allowed only one run over his previous 13 outings.Carlos Santana's two-run single off Chris Sale tied it at 3 with a three-run eighth. Until then the Indians had been shut out on four hits by John Danks.Danks left after yielding singles to Casey Kotchman and Jack Hannahan to open the eighth. Hannahan's ball fell just in front of left fielder Dayan Viciedo, who pulled up near the foul line.Sale came on and got Johnny Damon to hit a slow roller to shortstop Ramirez, who booted it for an error, loading the bases.Kipnis grounded out to first, scoring Kotchman and Asdrubal Cabrera walked, reloading the bases. Santana then lined a ball inches from Sale's shoulder and into center field to tie it.It was Sale's first appearance since being chosen as Chicago's closer by manager Robin Ventura last week. Sale went 3-1 in five starts, including a 7-2 win over Cleveland on May 1.Indians starter Justin Masterson made 27 pitches in the first inning, allowing five hits and falling behind 2-0.One run scored on a groundout by Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski added an RBI single.Cleveland put a runner on third with no outs in the seventh, but Danks quickly got out of it.Santana doubled on a full-count pitch and took third on a wild pitch before Shelley Duncan walked.Shin-Soo Choo then popped to center on the first pitch and Michael Brantley lined to Konerko at first base, who quickly tagged Duncan for a double play before the baserunner could get back to the bag.Masterson, who worked 8 1-3 strong innings to beat Danks in his previous start, struggled to throw strikes, but kept Cleveland in the game. The right-hander allowed six hits and two runs over six innings, walking five.He twice got out of jams by getting the White Sox to bounce into double plays, both started by third baseman Hannahan.Pierzynski made it 3-0 in the seventh with an RBI groundout after Chicago loaded the bases against reliever Dan Wheeler on two singles and a walk.Danks gave up two runs and five hits over seven innings.Notes: Ramirez went 0 for 5 and is in a 3 for 24 slump. ... Cleveland LHP Nick Hagadone struck out the side in the ninth, one day after earning his first career save. ... When Hagadone and Tony Sipp saved both ends of a doubleheader Monday, it was the first time since the save became an official statistic in 1969 that two different Cleveland lefties did it in a twinbill. ... In the first game, LHP Jose Quintana worked 5 2-3 scoreless innings, the longest scoreless stretch by a White Sox pitcher in his major-league debut since Jack McDowell's seven scoreless in 1987. ... Indians DH Travis Hafner, hitting .161 this year against lefties, got most of the night off against Danks. Hafner struck out as a pinch hitter for the final out.
Jose Abreu has made quite a turnaround from being a guy who was admittedly lost to bashing the ball like Abreu of old.
From April 19th on, Abreu has hit at another level, reminiscent of the performances he put on throughout an eye-opening 2014 campaign in which he was the unanimous American League rookie of the year winner. Over that stretch, Abreu has slashed at an absurd .347/.404/.677 clip with nine doubles, one triple, 10 home runs and 22 RBIs in 136 plate appearances.
Earlier this week, Abreu said the run is the product of trusting his tireless preparation.
"I struggled in the first few weeks of the season but I kept working," Abreu said through an interpreter. "Now I'm at this point where I feel very good and confident with my offense and things are going well for me. That's part of what you work for and if you work hard, you know the results will be there at the end of the day."
Two numbers that have improved significantly during Abreu's five-week tear are his average exit velocity and strikeout rate.
Abreu entered Wednesday 39th in the the majors with an average exit velocity of 90.5 mph this season, according to Baseball Savant.
But Abreu wasn't hitting the ball nearly as hard early this season, which was littered with weak contact. Abreu stumbled out of the gate with a .157 average, one extra-base hit and only five RBIs in his first 54 plate appearances. Through the first two weeks, Abreu's average exit velocity was 89.0 mph on 31 batted-ball events, which was slightly down from last season's 89.6 mph average and significantly down from 2015, when he averaged 90.9 mph.
Since then, however, Abreu has seen a significant increase in hard contact. Over his last 92 batted-ball events, Abreu is averaging 92.6 mph, a total that would qualify for 15th in the majors this season. Included in that span is 35 balls hit 100 mph or more.
But Abreu's success isn't just related to how hard he has hit the ball. He's also made much better contact this season and is striking out less than ever. Abreu struck out 14 times in his first 54 plate appearances (25.9 percent). But since then, he has whiffed only 17 times in 136 plate appearances, good for a 12.5 percent strikeout rate.
His season K-rate of 16.3 percent, according to Fangraphs.com, is down from a career mark of 19.6 percent.
"You have started to see him heat up a little," manager Rick Renteria said earlier this week. "He's given us solid at-bats. He's in a good place right now."
Actually, it's a great place and one Abreu hasn't done with consistency since 2015. He once again looks like the hitting machine he was for most of his first two seasons and the final two months of 2016.
Abreu is on pace to hit 36 home runs this season, which would match his 2014 total. His current wRC+ of 138 is his highest since he finished 2014 at 167.
Last season, Abreu didn't hit his 10th home run until June 18. He hit his 11th homer on June 23 and then didn't hit another until August 4. That stretch raised myriad questions both inside the organization and externally about whether or not Abreu would return to prominence as a hitter. Perhaps inspired by the August arrival of his son, Dariel, Abreu finished 2016 with a flurry, hitting .340/.402/.572 with 14 home runs in his final 241 plate appearances.
General manager Rick Hahn said last September that the stretch was important for White Sox evaluators to see.
"It certainly makes you more confident as you see him over the last six weeks, projecting out that he's going to be that same player that he was for the first two years of his career," Hahn said. "Earlier, when he was scuffling, you looked at some of the things he was doing from his approach or some of the mechanical issues he might have been having and you felt confident he was going to be able to get back. But in all candor, you like seeing the performance match what you're projecting and we've certainly seen that over the last six weeks."
The White Sox offense has benefitted from Abreu's leap back into prominence. The team has averaged 4.53 runs per game this season and is 9th in the American League with 204 runs scored and 17th overall in the majors. But the increase in offense still hasn't helped the White Sox improve in the standings. While Abreu is glad to be on the roll he is, he'd prefer if his team is along for the ride.
"We're are passing through a tough moment, a rough stretch," Abreu said. "For me as I've always said the team is first. I want to thank God for how I've performed through this rough stretch. But it's not something makes me feel happy because we didn't win as many games as we wanted to win. It's tough."
Jose Quintana has not started his 2017 campaign as many White Sox fans had hoped or expected.
Through nine games the 2016 All Star has posted just two wins and watched his ERA climb to 3.92 after Wednesday’s loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
This past offseason, Quintana was frequently mentioned as a possible trade piece for the White Sox who if moved might have brought in other key pieces for the retooling South Siders, much like Chris Sale and Adam Eaton did.
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Have Quintana’s early season struggles impacted his trade value?
White Sox play-by-play announcer Jason Benetti weighed in while appearing on Wednesday’s edition of SportsTalk Live.
“Somebody's trade value isn’t contingent necessarily on what he’s doing right now,” Benetti said. “I mean general managers are smart enough to know Jose Quintana is worth X over the course of time and a lot of what trade value has to do with, is what other teams need. So as injuries continue to pile up to other pitchers, if we’re talking about the value of a starting pitcher, the market has as much to do with that as his performance in one specific game.”
Listen to what else Benetti had to say in the video above.